Death. This is (usually) the final time this character will ever get to do anything. This gives us such tropes as Dying Declaration of Love, where a character realizes this is the last chance they'll ever get to say, "I love you."
But sometimes what they have to say is... 'sorry'. 'Sorry' that they can't keep their promises, that they can't do the things they said they would. 'Sorry' that they will upset others. 'Sorry' that they're dying.
Part of many a Heroic Sacrifice. In some ways an inversion of How Dare You Die on Me!, and in others, I Can Still Fight!. Sometimes it's the result of a very last-second Death Equals Redemption, sometimes it's the end result of Apologises a Lot.
- In Sailor Moon, Nephrite apologizes to Naru for not being able to take her out for a chocolate parfait just before he dies.
- In RG Veda, one of the most Tear Jerkers moments (and in this manga, that's a lot) is when The Cutie of Ryou-oh is killed by Ashura's just awaken Enemy Within and Ryou-oh apologizes to him for now being unable to fulfill his promise of protect him...all of that with a genuine but sad smile.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, as Hughes is Dying Alone, his last words are an apology to his wife and daughter for leaving them alone.
- In the X/1999 TV series, Yuuto Kigai falls victim to the injuries he got in his fight with Karen and his last thoughts and words are about his fellow Dragon of Earth Satsuki. He apologizes to her because he won't be able to have tea with her and Kanoe any longer.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Episode 21 sees Kaji going on a mission he is pretty certain he will not survive (he ultimately turns out to have been entirely right about that), but before that he leaves a last message for Misato, which is finally heard at the end of the episode. Kaji starts off the message thus: "I've probably put you through a lot of trouble by the time you're listening to this. I'm sorry. Tell Ritchan I said I'm sorry too."
- Adiane's last words in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann were an apology to her lover Thymilph for having failed to avenge his death.
- In Your Name, Mitsuha's mother Futaba apologises to her family as she lies on a hospital bed dying of sickness.
- In Flavors of Youth, Xiao Ming's dying grandmother has as her last words to him an apology for not being able to eat with him one last time.
- In K, Mikoto's last words are him apologizing to Anna because his death means she can no longer see the color red- which is the only color she can see, thanks to Mikoto's powers.
- In One Piece, Going Merry apologizes during her Viking Funeral that she wasn't able to carry the Straw Hats further on their voyage.
- Robin: When Tim ends up in a delivery truck buried in concrete with no way to communicate to the outside world his reaction is to mentally apologize to Bruce, both for the fact that he is going to die and because while trying to think of what to do he figured that Lady Shiva would recommend killing his fellow captive to preserve oxygen. Spoiler manages to find and save him since she was expecting to meet up with him for training and patrol that evening.
- In the The Loud House fanfic Requiem for a Loud, Lincoln considers the fact that he will die less worse than how his death will impact those he loves. He even literally apologizes for the bad news when telling Clyde and his dads.
- In the Oliver & Company fanfic Dodger And Company, Annie is bleeding to death from a gunshot wound by one of Sykes's gangster friends, and offers a tearful apology to Dodger.
- After Nightmare Moon's forces raze Manhattan in The God Empress of Ponykind, Celestia comes across the dying Dawn Sparkle who informs her Empress that she is no longer fit for active duty after trying and failing to slow the forces of Chaos down.
- The Road: The father to the boy.
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension: The black Lectroid John Gant is about to destroy his thermal pod (and himself) to prevent the red Lectroids from capturing it.
John Gant: My most profuse apologies to my homeland and loved ones...Perhaps John Parker will get through with our message to Buckaroo Banzai.
- In Serenity Simon, while lying on the ground shot, and thinking he is dying, apologizes to River for not protecting her enough. Hopefully the patron saint of big brothers (whoever it is) puts in a good word for him. Good thing he gets better.
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Nuka dies trying to make his mother proud by killing Simba. As his mother frantically tries to save him (showing for the first and only time in the movie that she really does care for him), he whispers his last words. "Sorry... I tried."
- In Frozen II, Olaf realizes he is going to die and tells Anna, "I'm sorry. You're gonna have to do this next part on your own."
- At the beginning of Attack of the Clones, Padmé's bodyguard decoy Cordé dies apologizing to her employer when she is caught in a trap meant to murder the Senator.
- In Captain Phillips, certain that he's about to be executed, the titular character screams out to anyone who can hear him to "tell my family that I love them!", rattles off the names of said family members, then caps it off by declaring, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry I'm here and not there with you!" It's then subverted in that he survives his terrifying ordeal, but just barely—snipers shoot his would-be killers just seconds before they would have shot him.
- The Matrix Reloaded: After Trinity is mortally wounded by a bullet through the heart, Neo removes the bullet. Trinity says "I'm sorry" and dies. She gets better.
- Cinderella (2015): On her deathbed, little Ella's mother says "I must go very soon, my love. Please forgive me."
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- The Avengers: When Phil Coulson is dying from his stab wound to the heart, his first words to Fury are an apology that he can't stay alive.
- Thor: The Dark World: When Loki seems to die in Thor's arms, he says that he is sorry thrice before Thor stops him.
- Thor: Ragnarok: The scene of Loki's death from The Dark World is reenacted In-Universe in a play Loki wrote himself, but the lines got more elaborate, and the delivery – more cheesy. Played for Laughs:
Loki Actor: I'm sorry. Sorry for all I've done. I'm sorry I tried to rule Earth. [...] I'm sorry about that thing with the Tesseract [...] Sorry about that time I turned you into a frog.
- Avengers: Infinity War: Peter Parker's dying words to Tony Stark are "I'm sorry".
- Moulin Rouge!: Satine apologizes to Christian as she lies dying in his arms.
- In Under the Yoke by S.M. Stirling, Jules says he would do anything for his daughter, except not die. Unfortunately, he has terminal cancer.
- Thebe and the Angry Red Eye has a scene where a group of doomed astronauts make their Pre-Sacrifice Final Goodbyes to Earth. One of them, The Medic Dr. Slawvitz, apologizes to her students for not being able to make their graduation, which she had promised to do.
- In Smallville, Fracture, unusually, Chloe Sullivan acts apologetic for dying after she comes back to life with Resurrective Immortality.
- Season four of Dexter gives us a non-verbal variant: Agent Frank Lundy, after having rekindled his romance with Deb Morgan, is shot dead a few episodes in. Deb watches him take his last breath. Although he says nothing, she describes the look on his face as he's dying as "apologetic."
- Doctor Who:
- Rory's last words to Amy after throwing himself between the Doctor and a laser blast are "I'm sorry".
- In the series 6 opener, the Doctor apologises to his horror-stricken friends just before the mysterious astronaut shoots him mid-regeneration, killing him for good.
- Played with in Forever (2014) when Henry is stabbed and lies dying in his beloved Abigail's arms; she doesn't yet know that he's immortal, so he's apologizing more for the fact that she won't understand what's happening when he vanishes than it is for dying itself. Likely also for the fact that he died publicly, thus will need to move on to a new identity, leaving her alone with baby Abraham. Or so he thinks…
- On Growing Pains Mike's big acting break (or so he thinks) is when get gets a gig on a Police Procedural as a cop who gets shot in a shootout, saying something like "I guess I'll never get to [something]." But when it's shown on TV his one line gets cut.
- "The Even Chance" from Horatio Hornblower Mini Series: Midshipman Clayton, Horatio and Archie's friend, is dying after the third of the episode. Horatio challenged their sadistic bully to a pistol duel, and Clayton didn't want him to fight it because Horatio is way too young and Simpson is one of the best shots in the Navy. The scene at Clayton's deathbed is truly heart-wrenching. Clayton's sorry he's dying so very young and feels that much younger Horatio shamed him, being more courageous when dealing with their nemesis. He explicitly says he's sorry he didn't kill Simpson.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fool for Love", Xin Rong's last words are "Tell my mother I'm sorry." The message is never delivered because, in addition to being a soulless vampire, Spike doesn't speak Chinese.
- Taiga Hanaya/Kamen Rider Snipe of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid apologized to Nico Saiba after a (suicidal) fight against his Arch-Enemy left him without much time to live.
Sorry, I can't take care of you anymore...
- Near the end of Act 2 of Infinite Space, after he fires exalaser cannon to take down the enemy ships those are pursuing Yuri, Dietrich apologizes to Yuri for not being able to keep his word to him to stay alive.
- In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Almaz apologizes to Princess Sapphire that he couldn't keep his promise to not die for her sake, after being pricked with a poisoned needle in a trap aimed at her.
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: After biting off more than he could chew with Riku, Lexaeus's last words are an apology to Zexion (who isn't even present).
"Forgive me, Zexion... this was a fight I should not have started."
- In one of his bad endings in Hakuouki, Okita Souji performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save Chizuru and then, as he lies dying in her arms, laments that he's leaving her alone and apologizes for it.
- The (potential) last words of Garrus Vakarian in Mass Effect 2: “Sorry, Shepard. Won't be with you at the end. Snipe one for me, would you?"
- Persona 3:
- Yukari's father's last words included an apology for not being able to spend more time with her.
- When KO'd in battle, Aigis cries out a glitchy "I'm sorry..."
- In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, Crow dies after performing a Heroic Sacrifice to give Rean the opening to rescue the crown prince. He dies, apologizing to Rean and Class VII for not coming back with them to the academy.
- Examples aplenty in Fire Emblem series. See this page for details. In fact, the dying quote of the very first FE protagonist is straight-up this.
Marth: Forgive me, my friends...
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, after Link defeats Fireblight Ganon and takes control of Vah Rudania, Daruk's spirit appears and apologises to Link for dying and causing problems for Hyrule.
- In the final case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Dhurke Sahdmadhi regretfully informs his adopted son Apollo Justice that he is dying of an illness and doesn't have long to live. In actuality, it's not an illness, it's a gunshot wound, and Dhurke is already dead. It makes sense in context.
- In Spirit Hunter: NG, D-Man's last D-Card has him say that he felt bad about dying... because it caused an inconvenience for his co-workers and the readers of their magazine.
- The Order of the Stick: A random hobgoblin sees a boulder flying in and knocks his commander out of the way. Last words, and possibly two out of his only three lines are:
I regret to report that I am no longer fit for duty...Supreme Leader...
- It's Walky!: Dina, having just (accidentally) sealed herself in a test chamber with an active bomb. She can't leave the chamber without risking getting shot or the bad guys deactivating the bomb and using it elsewhere. Walky and Mike break through to the adjoining room...just in time to see Dina through the glass steel window before the bomb explodes:
- Mom, I'm Sorry: As Henry reaches the end of his artificially shortened life span, the last thing he says to his mom is "Mom, I'm sorry... Mom... I love... you..."
- Liberty's Kids has an episode that starts off with Nathan Hale, and the British commanders commenting that they can't let word get out that an American was able to face death so calmly.
- In Adventure Time when Betty comes to modern Ooo only to realize her fiancé Simon is dying, she says "Don't die, Simon. I just got here," to which he replies "I'm sorry, Betty."
- The Simpsons episode The Haw-Hawed Couple had a sight gag where, after Homer got to the part in the Angelica Button novel where the great wizard Greystash died, he somehow managed to procure an autograph that said "To Homer, Sorry for dying. Greystash."
- Nathan Hale's famous last words to his British captors, which were reported as, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
- Satoshi Kon, after expressing regrets about being unable to finish the movie he was working on at the time, ended his farewell letter with a phrase that is used when somebody leaves work while others have to stay and roughly translates as "Sorry for leaving early".
- Wehrmacht Sergeant Anton Schmid, who was executed in 1942 for rescuing 250 Jews from the Vilna Ghetto in Lithuania. In his last letter to his wife and daughter, he wrote "Please, please forgive me. I only behaved like a human being. I didn't want to hurt anyone."
- The last words that General Duroc exchanged with Napoleon as he lay dying from his wounds were regrets that he could no longer be of use to him.